Well, it’s Friday once again, folks. A three day weekend of fun, friends, and zero responsibility is just getting started. But for NCAA Men’s Hockey players, the season is more than well underway. And the slate of games this weekend are just as promising as ever. While this weekend only features one match up between ranked teams, the conference and regional rivals are plenty, and promise to make for a great weekend of hockey.
First off, it’s the battle of the Alaska’s. Anchorage vs. Fairbanks. The Sea Wolves are coming off a 4-game losing streak, having dropped two to both Alabama Huntsville and Ferris State. The Nanooks, on the other hand, beat Ferris State twice the week prior. Last week, they were shut out vs. Bowling Green before rallying to tie 4-4 the following night. In the WCHA standings, Fairbanks holds the slight edge over Huntsville, currently at 6th in conference while the other Alaska sits at 9th. Davis Jones has been Fairbanks’ default #1 net minder this season, and will likely start for the regional clash. He’s been inconsistent at best, which is good news for the struggling Anchorage attack, who have only managed to score consistently vs. the likes of Bemidji State and Northern Michigan.
Next up, a battle of Service Schools. Atlantic Hockey Conference rivals Army and Air Force go head to head this weekend in Colorado Springs, part of a 4-game Falcon home stand. Air Force hope a pair of results vs. the Black Knights can get them a leg up in the standings of a log-jammed AHC. Only 6 points separate the 2nd place and 6th place teams, and in 8th, Army is not far behind. Tyler Pham of Army is a player of interest this weekend, having won his 2nd Rookie of the Week award just two weeks ago. With 19 points, the freshman forward is top 10 in AHC scoring. Additionally, the Fort Collins, Co. native is making a homecoming for the upcoming games vs. the Falcons.
Moving right along, we have our only ranked match up of the weekend as Bowling Green (8) takes on Michigan Tech (11). A mere point separates these WCHA counterparts, who sit at 3rd and 2nd respectively. While Michigan Tech may have the one point edge in conference, the Falcons have a better out of conference record, which is all that matters in the Polls. Last week’s rankings had BGSU at 14th while the Huskies sat at 8, making this matchup all the juicier. The Falcons are undefeated in their last 8 games going into this weekend, including a comeback tie vs. Anchorage last weekend. Expect a big weekend from Falcon underclassmen Matt Pohlkamp, Kevin Dufour and Pierre-Luc Mercier who lead BGSU in scoring with 16, 15, and 15 points respectively.
Back over on the East Coast, an out of conference matchup between ECAC leaders Quinnipiac (12) and Merrimack of the Hockey East promises to be a show as well. The Bobcats are riding a bit of a high as of late, winning 5 of their last 6 in style. Travis St. Denis was named ECAC Player of the Week last week, goaltender Michael Garteig is the Bobcats’ Male Player of the Month for January, and Matthew Peca once again made NCAA.com’s Top 5 Hockey Plays of the Week for his stellar goal vs. RPI. On top of that, the Bobcats were named one of NCAA’s Top 10 Men’s Hockey Schools by USA Today. Yep, getting results this weekend is going to be a tall order for Merrimack, but a good showing vs. Frozen Four faves Quinnipiac will put them in a very good place going into next week.
Is there a sport where the Michigan vs. Ohio State rivalry isn’t awesome? Hm… guess not. And while neither school has a current national ranking, the Buckeyes are right behind the Wolverines (1st in Big 10) in conference play. After taking 1 of 2 at Penn State last week, Ohio State continues Conference play this week, while Michigan looks to keep riding high at #1. Speaking of riding highs, Zach Hyman and Dylan Larkin were named 1st and 2nd stars of the week after two big wins vs. Minnesota last week and earning coach Red Berenson his 800th career win in the process. So while neither of these squads are ranked currently, an impressive showing this weekend means they may be very soon.
And, of course, we save the best for last. The biggest matchup this weekend is undoubtedly the Battle of Comm Ave, as the Boston College Golden Eagles and the Boston University Terriers (3) lock horns for the 267th time. To make things even more interesting, the Eagles are undefeated in their last seven (5-0-2) and the Terriers in their last six (3-0-3). Both teams are more than eager to give the other their first L since Thanksgiving, which for BU, may be a tall order despite their #3 ranking. The Golden Eagles have dominated this match up in recent years, winning 12 of 17 dating back to 2010 and including a 4-0 sweep over the Terriers in that same year. A stingy defense and a talisman goalie in Junior Matt O’Connor (.936 save pct.) will be tasked with keeping BC at bay especially during power plays (Eagles are 8-0-0 when scoring at least one power play goal and 4-7-2 when they don’t). Either way, this is looking to be a hell of a game, or perhaps the most important played by either school thus far.
P.S. Remember how big a deal I made when I said Quinnipiac was on that Top 10 College Hockey Schools List? Well, the Golden Eagles not only made it, but are #1. Yeah. Exactly.
P.P.S. Excited about this weekend’s slate of games? Think I should’ve previewed your school’s game? Let us know below and stay tuned for more coverage of NCAA Hockey on FrozenFutures.com